Earlier this week, conservative pundit Todd Starnes sparked a firestorm when he posted a video of his local Brooklyn hospital— which appeared empty despite the terrifying headlines about the coronavirus pandemic.
“Coronavirus truthers” around the country filmed similar scenes— empty hospitals, deserted car-parks, and quiet coronavirus testing centers. Before long, the #FilmYourHospital hashtag had gone viral on Twitter.
Skeptics pointed to the #FilmYourHospital challenge as proof coronavirus has been overdramatized by the media. They couldn’t reconcile the dire images shown on the news with the seemingly abandoned hospitals in their own neighborhoods.
CCN.com spoke to medical professionals about the rise of coronavirus truthers – and their claim that COVID-19 is just a liberal media hoax. The doctors and nurses we interviewed came from all parts of the country— some had even seen their hospitals filmed on the challenge.
Their answer? Stop trying to discredit the dire situation the medical community has found itself in. We need supplies, we need help, and most of all, we need you to take coronavirus seriously.
One Pennsylvania nurse told CCN.com that although the media does dramatize things, the alarming conditions in other countries and even other hospitals in the U.S. are important for the public to see.
It’s coming, she said, and we’re just doing our best to prepare:
[This is a] crisis. PPE [personal protective equipment] is the biggest crisis. We need more supplies to take care of these patients. It’s possible to produce more supplies but not possible to produce more or replace healthcare workers, especially in a global pandemic.
It’s a serious situation, and while the media can dramatize, I think they’re reporting what is happening around the world and what is going on in places that have been hit hard. I think it’s coming, it’s just a matter of time.
A nurse in the U.K. told us she was shocked to hear that anyone was questioning the validity of the cries for help from the medical community. She noted that while her experience has been in Europe’s hospitals, there are several reasons U.S. hospitals look deserted in the #FilmYourHospital videos.
They’ve closed the non-essential aspects to stop the spread to those patients needing routine care, [and] that the hospital staff are self isolating so some areas are shut, as they just can’t take the normal volume of patients.
Indeed, many hospitals have shut down huge swaths of their operations to prepare for the oncoming wave of coronavirus patients.
A Seattle-area physician confirmed that the apparently empty hospitals seen in the #FilmYourHosptial videos are the calm before the storm.
We have stopped all elective cases and are doing urgent/emergent cases only. Even cancer patients are having their procedures postponed to due in insufficient supply of HEPA filters, which prevent the anesthesia ventilators from becoming contaminated.
She told us that her hospital isn’t at capacity yet, but it’s expecting to see a peak of cases in April. The immediate problem isn’t a lack of space. It’s a lack of supplies and healthy medical workers.
Healthcare workers are being infected at about 2-3 times the rate of others. We are doing our best to survive this pandemic, especially in the face of inadequate amounts of PPEs which has been a HUGE issue. Healthcare workers are being asked to go into work every day and knowingly interact with potential or known positive patients without appropriate protections.
All of the doctors and nurses we spoke to were disheartened by Todd Starnes’ inflammatory post and the #FilmYourHospital trend that’s ensued. After all, they’re risking their lives to treat a high volume of infected patients without proper protective equipment.
We all have families and lives outside of work so it has certainly taken a toll mentally on most of us. My fellow physicians, as well as nurses, scrub techs, janitorial staff, etc. are literally risking their lives to help care for the people who come into the hospital. We are seeing the horrendous effects of the coronavirus and it is most certainly not a joke.